Press Release
June 6, 2020

Give OFWs red carpet, not sidewalk treatment; help OCWs-Out-of-job Construction Workers-too

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto today welcomed the government's "gone in five days" policy for returning OFWs transiting through Manila on their way home "as one that is painfully overdue."

But as more airports reopen to receive flights from abroad, Recto said this "deadline should apply nationally, not just in Metro Manila."

For this policy to be successfully implemented, "present testing and transportation capacities must increase together with the number of personnel," Recto said.

"Kung kulang ng tao na sasalubong at aalalay sa kanila, pwedeng mag-hire. Halimbawa, kung mayroong mga sweeper flights sa ere, kailangan din ng mga sweeper teams on the ground na dadalhin sa mga hotels yung mga OFWs na natutulog sa sidewalk," Recto said.

"They deserve a red carpet treatment, not a sidewalk reception," Recto said, in reaction to a photo of OFWs spending the night on the pavement of a NAIA terminal.

Recto said "disturbing scenes such as these should now be a thing of the past" with the announcement by the IATF head, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, that OFWs will be sent home not later than 5 days after they arrive in the country.

"Let us hope that this is finally the beginning of a scaled up handling of returning OFWs so that the huge global backlog in OFWs wanting to go home will be reduced," Recto said.

Recto also urged the government to ease the plight of the "other OCWs-the Out-of-job Construction Workers" who have been stranded in Metro Manila and major cities "in their tens of thousands."

"As we increase capacity for domestic repatriation, we should include jobless, homeless local workers, for they, too, have as much right to government help as their overseas counterparts," Recto said.

Many of them had to "walk under the sun and under the stars" for weeks, just to return to their homes emptyhanded, Recto said.

The latest government employment report pegged at 1.4 million the number of construction workers who lost their jobs a month after the government-declared lockdown banned construction work on March 16.

Unemployment shot up to 17.7 percent in April, or to 7.3 million, from 2.3 million year-on-year, the PSA reported on Friday.

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